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Meatless Family Meals: Peas and Thank You

(Photo courtesy of Harlequin)

Peas and Thank You, the book, is available now. (Photo courtesy of Harlequin)

Sarah Matheny would often tote a can of soup and a carton of yogurt for lunch during her busy day as an attorney. "I wasn't eating terribly, but I did rely on a lot of processed foods," Sarah admits. When she decided to become a stay-at-home mom after having her first daughter, Sarah opted to revamp her diet as well—turning vegetarian and  focusing on preparing whole foods-based meals. "I am a role model for my daughters and they pick up my behavior. I wanted to clean up my act," she says.

Her meatless quest turned into a blog, Peas and Thank You, and the popularity of her recipes and stories on the blog offered her the opportunity to write a book. Peas and Thank You: Meatless Meals the Whole Family Will Love was released yesterday, sharing "healthier twists on foods we all enjoy."

Since Sarah is a pro at creating produce-filled recipes her (adorable!) daughters devour, we asked for three tips for getting kids to eat their veggies:

  1. Don't play hide and seek. "I want my kids to know that they're eating vegetables so they realize at a young age that they're delicious! Rather than disguising them, I incorporate them into meals they love the taste of, like enchiladas, pizza or pasta."
  2. Make it visible. "We always have fresh produce in our crisper drawers, and tell our daughters that they can always grab something from there for a snack."
  3. Let them help. "Bring your kids along to the grocery store and let them pick out a new vegetable that everyone in the family has to try that week. Then have the kids join you in the kitchen for meal preparation! They'll have a sense of control."

Click below for Sarah's recipes for a simple morning smoothie and a mouthwatering dessert reminiscent of a brown bag lunch staple!

Mama Pea's Margarita Smoothie

Tastes like a cocktail, but packs the nutrition of a smoothie! (Photo courtesy of Harlequin)

Tastes like a cocktail, but packs a produce punch! (Photo courtesy of Harlequin)

Serves 4

  • 2 cups lime seltzer
  • 1 cup light coconut milk
  • 1 cup orange juice
  • 1/2 cup lime juice
  • 1/4 cup cilantro
  • 2 cups spinach
  • 2 cups frozen pineapple
  • 1 cup ice
  • stevia to taste
  • sea salt to rim glass
  1. Combine all ingredients except salt in a blender and blend until smooth.
  2. Wet the rim of your serving glass and dip in coarsely ground sea salt. Pour and enjoy.

Nutrition Information Per Serving: 195 calories, 12 g fat (11 g saturated)

PB and J-Filled Cupcakes

The six grams of protein in these cupcakes will help keep you full long after dessert. (Photo courtesy of Harlequin)

The six grams of protein in these cupcakes will help keep you full long after dessert. (Photo courtesy of Harlequin)

Serves 12

For cupcakes:

  • 1 3/4 cups whole wheat pastry or white whole wheat flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2/3 cup organic sugar
  • 2/3 cup non-dairy or organic milk
  • 1/4 cup natural peanut butter

For filling:

  • 1/3 cup 100 percent fruit preserves (raspberry and strawberry are best)
  • 1/3 cup natural peanut butter
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a muffin tin with cupcake papers or spray with cooking spray.
  2. In a mixing bowl, combine flour, baking powder and salt.
  3. In a smaller bowl, mix vanilla, sugar, milk and 1/4 cup peanut butter.
  4. Add wet mixture to dry ingredients and stir until just combined.
  5. Place a large spoonful of batter in the bottom of each muffin well. Add approximately 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of preserves and 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of peanut butter on top of batter, and then an additional teaspoon of cupcake batter on top of the peanut butter and preserves.
  6. Bake cupcake for 20 to 25 minutes, until tops are golden brown.

Nutrition Information Per Serving: 194 calories, 5 g fat (1 g saturated fat)